Hand of a chef taking photograph of a dish on table with a mobile phone.

With ‘Half Baked Harvest,’ Yet Another White Food Influencer Seems Incapable of Hearing Criticism

Half Baked Harvest, a recipe website created by food influencer Tieghan Gerard, is best known for decadent recipes meant to be accessible for home cooks. Although wildly popular, the brand has also been marred by multiple controversies over the past few years.

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Whitewashing and appropriating recipes

On multiple occasions, Gerard has been accused of appropriating and incorrectly making “Asian” recipes. The first of these was a soup recipe that Gerard claimed was Vietnamese Pho, despite using chicken instead of beef for the broth and the whole recipe taking much less time than true, traditional pho.

Gerard was apologetic at first, changing the recipe title and responding to many critical comments by saying, “It was never my intention to offend or hurt anyone or the culture,” as well as issuing a promise to do better.


#greenscreen If you’re going to attempt a recipe from another culture, do your homework and apologize if you mess up. Don’t be silent and s**t on someone else’s culture. #foodlover #fyp #fypシ #foodie #culturalappropriation #bahnmi #vietnamesefood #halfbakedharvest @halfbakedharvest

♬ original sound – susiefoodie75

However, the cycle repeated in March 2023, when Gerard shared a recipe for “25 Minute Ginger Sesame Banh Mi Rice Bowls.” Bánh mì is a type of bread and is thus unlikely to be found in a rice bowl. She also mispronounces the name of the dish in her Instagram video of the recipe.

Despite a wave of people calling for a correction in the comments of the post, the recipe is still labeled as “Bahn Mi.” Some former fans have accused Gerard of deleting their comments from her posts altogether. Overall, Gerard has been largely dismissive of criticism, remaining adamant that most of it is just “internet hate” and insisting that the vast majority of her audience are fans. Even fans on her subreddit have noted that “she never seems to take accountability or learn from her mistakes.”

Gerard has most recently been accused of confusing Thai and Middle Eastern cuisines after she created a recipe for “Thai Short Ribs” that used pomegranate juice, an ingredient more commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine.

Accusations of theft

It doesn’t help that Gerard has been accused of stealing recipes from other food content creators. According to a recent profile in the New York Times, Gaby Dalkin of What’s Gaby Cooking and Adrianna Guevara Adarme of A Cozy Kitchen have both reportedly accused Gerard of stealing their recipes, though the outlet was unable to get more information from them on the matter.

Others have (perhaps somewhat jokingly) accused Half Baked Harvest of making it hard to compete due to constantly making new versions of existing recipes, thereby pushing out competition. Meanwhile, other home cooks accuse Half Baked Harvest‘s recipes of being near-impossible to follow and recreate, possibly due to not being thoroughly tested for replicability.

Food Blogger Hannah Selinger commented to the New York Times that Gerard is a “great food stylist” (Gerard herself told the outlet she’s “always been about the visuals”) but questions “why isn’t she more interested in food, and why does she get a seat at the table when there are so many people who actually know this stuff?”

When criticism becomes invasive

Other commenters have issued more personal concerns regarding potential disordered eating, dissecting old photos and videos for “evidence” and claiming that Gerard is creating “high-calorie, unhealthy recipes” that she herself does not eat.

(The New York Times reports that Gerard has denied having an eating disorder, but does state that she has social anxiety and separation anxiety. She has said that she is treating these “privately” and calms herself through her work, though this can lead to her forgetting to eat and sleep.)

Meanwhile, Gerard’s mother calls this brand of criticism “sexist and judgemental,” telling the Times people “would never do that if the person was overweight.” Which, given the intense scrutiny of plus-size celebrities, is a completely false double standard.

However, she is correct about one thing: Whether or not someone engages in disordered eating, speculating about it helps no one. Whether it comes from a place of empathy or criticism, dissecting and speculating about a person’s eating habits is not acceptable criticism. Given the vast amount of legitimate criticism Gerard has arguably earned, wading into these waters is as unnecessary as it is offensive.

(featured image: Getty Images)

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Kimberly Terasaki
Kimberly Terasaki is a contributing writer for The Mary Sue. She has been writing articles for them since 2018, going on 5 years of working with this amazing team. Her interests include Star Wars, Marvel, DC, Horror, intersectional feminism, and fanfiction; some are interests she has held for decades, while others are more recent hobbies. She liked Ahsoka Tano before it was cool, will fight you about Rey being a “Mary Sue,” and is a Kamala Khan stan.